Boddington Estates near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is a recent convert to the Valtra brand.
The 600ha farm produces 500ha of autumn-sown combinable crops, including 220ha of milling quality wheat, 85ha of winter barley, 100ha of oilseed rape and 95ha of winter beans.
A further 20ha of temporary leys, 40ha of permanent pasture and woodland, also supports a herd of 80 stabiliser beef cattle.
When looking to replace an older 160hp tractor, Andrew Walters, the farm and estate manager, went against obvious tractor choices, in favour of a T234 Direct.
“As our cultivation and drilling choices have evolved, we looked at increasing power,” he says. “And extra capacity and flexibility gives us options to expand the business with contract farming agreements.”
“We wanted a tractor that was light and manoeuvrable for greater versatility, but also one that could pack a punch to support our 280hp frontline tractor.”
“I have good experience of other AGCO brands through my dealer Lister Wilder, and while their German brand was the obvious choice, it wasn’t the only option.”
“I was given the opportunity by Lister’s Valtra specialist Dan Sharood to try a T4 and I must admit, I didn’t take it seriously,” he says. “But the second time I was asked, we had a Direct model on-farm, for a week.”
“Its performance was impressive,” he says. “Colleagues said it pulled really well, was comfortable and quiet. Then a Versu powershift turned up some time afterwards, and it confirmed that a CVT was the only transmission choice for us, for fieldwork.”
When the tractor re-appeared for the third time, Mr Walters took the opportunity to spend time in the cab, to gain a better understanding of the finer workings of the T234.
“I looked into its features and controls, and how it could handle our kit,” he says. “While the CVT is different to what we’ve been used to, it was every bit as good with field work.”
“Stepping away from something you know is never an easy choice, and I questioned whether or not we should take the gamble,” he says.
“But so far, I’m glad we did. A five-year, 5,000-hour warranty with a service package has given me with fixed costs, and it’s me who spends most of the time in the cab so I opted for a few extras through the Unlimited Studio.”
Valtra’s Unlimited Studio added the final detailing and metallic silver painted wheels. So how has the tractor performed?
Since arriving on-farm in Spring 2018, the T234 has covered 1,000 hours, and has won over Boddington Estates.
“It’s very economical on diesel, the cab is spacious and quiet, and I can honestly say it’s the most comfortable tractor I’ve ever driven.”
“Since the tractor arrived, it has drawn a lot of interest locally, and led to two other farming friends buying Valtra. I’d certainly consider another.”